Message centers

The city of Abilene is in the process of reviewing the regulations for the nine signs like these pictured, eight of which are on Buckeye Avenue.

A condition preventing electronic message signs from changing messages in not less than 15 seconds is being reviewed by the city of Abilene, Interim City Manager Jane Foltz said at the special Abilene City Commission meeting on Tuesday.

Foltz said that the 15 second rule was part of the conditional use permit for most of the electric message signs but she called that rule “antiquated.”

Most of the nine signs in Abilene change every 5 to 6 seconds.

“Staff is taking that to the planning commission,” she said.

The 15 second rule was questioned when Lumber House True Value was recently approved.

Currently the signs are being allowed to change about every 4 to 6 seconds.

Salary schedule

On a 5-0 vote the commission approved a salary classification as suggested in the classification and compensation study by the Austin Peters Group.

Foltz said Human Resource Director Clerk Penny Soukup reviewed the 2020 budget with the proposed pay changes.

“Nearly all of the positions are currently in the new proposed pay ranges,” Foltz said. “She made adjustments to the 2020 budget due to the turnover. This made a significant difference in the 2020 budget.”

That difference is a decrease of $38,906.

The salary budget is $4,929,207. The changes cause the payroll to be $4,890,301.

“So we expect a budget carryover in the 2019 personnel pay and benefits to be large,” she said.

Commissioners also approved the sale of general obligation bonds to pay off the Kansas Department of Health and Environment loan of just under $4.2 million for wastewater treatment plant improvements in order to get a lower rate, a savings of about $65,000.

The original loan of $8.6 million was made in 2005.

Finance Director Marcus Rothchild said the maturity date of March 2028 remained the same.

Opioid suit

City Attorney Aaron Martin said the city has been asked to join with other cities in a class-action lawsuit on prescription opioid litigation in federal court in Ohio.

“A class-action lawsuit has been filed in connection with the manufacture of prescription opioid drugs,” he said.

He said it could be composed of 34,000 municipalities in the United States.

“If you don’t opt out by a certain date you will be deemed part of this negotiation,” he said.

Martin said pending a hypothetical $1 billion recovery, Abilene might receive $5,000.

The city’s options are to opt out, go it alone, ban together with another group, or stay in and participate.

“If and when a settlement is reached, we will be notified. It could be three, four, five years down the road,” Martin said.

Mayor Tim Shafer asked that the issue be brought up at the next study session at 4 p.m. Monday in the city building.

Contact Tim Horan at

Contact Tim Horan at

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